Asian American Committee Hosts 22 Years of the AAC

Celebrating 22 Years of the Asian American Committee

July 30, 2022 A DGA AAC Event

On July 30, the DGA celebrated 22 years of the Asian American Committee (AAC) with a peer-to-peer round table discussion highlighting the contributions of Asian American Directors in the film and television industry.

After the audience of DGA members and guests settled into DGA Theater Two, the evening kicked off with a welcome from DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter, who spoke about the integral role the AAC has played in the in the Guild.

“Tonight, we celebrate 22 years of that unceasing dedication, resilience, optimism and powerful storytelling,” said Glatter in her opening remarks. “Themes that are wholly represented by tonight’s panel of exceptionally talented Directors.”

Glatter then turned the podium over to AAC Co-Chairs Kabir Akhtar, Maureen Bharoocha and Kai Kim, who spoke about the Committee’s growth during the Pandemic.

“[Over the last two years, the AAC] witnessed a welcomed boost in attendance and engagement in our monthly meetings,” said Kim. “We joined the other DGA diversity committees to create the Committee of Joint Co-Chairs and brought our perspective and input to the DGA Diversity Summit. And with our encouragement, the Guild made a public statement speaking out against anti-Asian hate. Fortunately, this moment in time brought our community closer together and we absolutely believe the diverse voices and varied perspectives have made our conversations all the richer and more inclusive.”

Following the Co-Chairs remarks, Moderator and Director Lou Diamond Phillips (Bull) took the stage and introduced the evening’s panelists: Directors Meera Menon (Ms. Marvel), Kevin Tancharoen (The Book of Boba Fett), Larry Teng (Nancy Drew), James Wong (9-1-1) and Chloé Zhao (Eternals).

During the conversation, Wong reflected on how things have changed over the years. “It's changed quite a bit. My first movie came out when this Asian American committee started. When I started working in this business, there was no concept of like Asian-American in films, really, except maybe a couple.”

“But now the projects that I'm telling with Asian characters are simply that: they're just Asian people, and they're living their lives and it's not genre,” said Tancharoen. “They're dramas, and they're messy. They're real people. It's about them just finding out who they are through the course of every scene.”

“I don’t know really if there is much you can do if you just keep trying to work within the same system, which is why Chloe's work is so inspiring and why I think that is where we always find our inspiration is from the margins of filmmaking,” said Menon. “That's where the change happens.”

Zhao followed up by stating how the traditional paths to success have changed. “When I was in film school, we were told you make a short film it gets into Sundance and next thing you know Focus Features will give you a three-picture deal. That was the trend. Now we're at the frontier again. And you must ask yourself, why should anybody watch your stuff?”

Teng stressed the importance of looking out for the next generation of filmmakers. “I work with the University of Hawaii on their advisory board of the film school. Every year we hired kids who just graduated onto the production. We have to take on that responsibility to nurture talent.”

The panelists also discussed their personal experiences collaborating with producers, writers and other crew members, their individual career paths and how that informed them as Directors, and their observations and insights pertaining to the lack of Asian American representation both on screen and behind the camera.

“We cover a lot of territory up here,” said Phillips. “Asian is a big umbrella, and it always will be a big umbrella. But it seems like everybody gets their moment in the sun. And what we hope is that it's not just that moment: that we can create a forward momentum.”

The event was followed by a networking reception in the Atrium.


See video from this event in the gallery below.

ABOUT THE PANELISTS:
Meera MenonMeera Menon
In addition to her work on Ms. Marvel, Menon’s directing credits include the features Farah Goes Bang and Equity; the pilot for the series With Love; and episodes of Westworld, For All Mankind, Punisher, Strange Angel, The Man in the High Castle, Glow, The Magicians, Fear the Walking Dead, Snowfall, Halt & Catch Fire and Blood Drive. Menon joined the DGA in 2016.
 
Kevin TancharoenKevin Tancharoen
In addition to his work on The Book of Boba Fett, Tancharoen’s directing credits include the feature Glee: The 3D Concert Movie; and episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, 12 Monkeys, Titans and Mortal Kombat: Legacy. He is currently directing and executive producing the upcoming series, The Brothers Sun. Tancharoen joined the DGA in 2008.
 
Larry TengLarry Teng
Teng is a veteran Television Director with over 100 episodes of experience in network, cable and streaming. In addition to his work on Nancy Drew, where he also directed the pilot, his directing credits include episodes of Medium, Hawaii Five-O, Criminal Minds, The Walking Dead, Supergirl, Graceland, Elementary, SEAL Team, S.W.A.T., Animal Kingdom, The Good Doctor and Doom Patrol; as well as the pilots for NCIS: Hawaii and The Bay. Teng has been a DGA member since 2007.
 
James WongJames Wong
Wong has been a prolific Director, Writer and Producer of series television and feature film. In addition to his work on 9-1-1, his directing credits include the feature films Final Destination, Final Destination 3, The One and Dragonball Evolution; and episodes of The X-Files, The Event and Tower Prep. Wong joined the DGA in 1995.
 
Chloe ZhaoChloé Zhao
In addition to her work on the feature Eternals, Zhao’s directing credits include the features Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider. Her film, Nomadland, earned her the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, as well as Academy Awards for “Best Motion Picture” and “Best Achievement in Directing.” Zhao joined the DGA in 2019.
 
Lou Diamond PhillipsLou Diamond Phillips (moderator)
Phillips’s directing credits include the feature films Tao of Surfing, Sioux City and Dangerous Touch; the movie for television Love Takes Wing; and episodes of Bull, The Cleaning Lady, Prodigal Son, Fear the Walking Dead, Longmire, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone and Resurrection Blvd. Phillips joined the DGA in 1999.
 

About the Asian American Committee:

The Asian American Committee (AAC) was created as a networking group to provide a forum for interests and issues that concern Asian-American Guild members. Through outreach efforts in the entertainment industry that emphasize career development and skills enhancement, the committee provides a variety of networking opportunities as well as screenings, seminars and discussions with industry professionals. The current AAC Co-Chairs are Directors Kabir Akhtar, Maureen Bharoocha and Kai Kim.

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